Do you wish you were braver? (A bravery story.)
Do you wish you were a little braver?
Like many of us, maybe you wish you could tell your story, loud and proud...
... or just speak up more and do the right thing...
... or be an inspiration to your kids and show them what it really means to be a strong, courageous person.
I’ve been thinking about this idea of bravery lately and thought I'd share a little story with you. Here goes.
When I was twenty years old, I was awake for heart surgery.
The doctor encouraged me not to have a general anesthetic. He said they’d give me something to calm me down and told me that I would likely fall asleep. I’m not sure whether my response was due to bravery or just misguided bravado, but I agreed.
Turns out, I did not fall asleep. Instead, I paid attention.
I listened as the doctors and nurses gossiped and chatted while they worked. I watched the monitors that showed my cardiac activity, and noticed when they showed signs of trouble. I peeked at the cardiologist and saw my blood. I asked for more freezing when I felt pain. And I will freely admit, I cried. I cried most of the time and I held a nurse’s hand while I waited for it all to pass.
Now, let me add that for most of my childhood I had a phobia of hospitals, and surgery in particular. Remember that game, Operation? I couldn’t walk through a toy store without being desperately afraid that I might catch a glimpse of it.
While this fear softened as I got older, surgery was still scary enough. So, you know, kudos to 20 year old me for committing to having surgery, and going through with it.
Here’s the thing, though: when I look back, I don’t necessarily think of this act as particularly brave. I was just doing what had to be done. I made a choice, and followed through.
For me, the really brave stuff came later.
Years later. When I stopped keeping this story secret, and started rewriting it.
What was my ‘brave’?
Brave was letting go of the old story about what my heart meant and how it defined me.
Brave was trying new things, things that directly rubbed up against those old narratives.
Brave was deciding to be OK with my own not-OKness; embracing all the ways I loved my heart, and all the ways I didn’t.
Brave was not just sharing my story, but committing to evolving it, rewriting it, and discovering new chapters.
Brave was really, truly, being me.
And so, I have a question for you. Several, actually...
--> What is the brave but scary thing you have been waiting to do?
--> What is the story you’re telling yourself that is holding you back from doing it?
And most importantly...
What if your time to be brave was right now?
Thank you all for being brave, showing up, and sharing your stories.
I believe in your brave.